Same day delivery and personalized gifts are the perfect couple for Valentine’s Day. Despite their differences in age, same day delivery remains young at heart. In fact, demand for the delivery of products within the same 24 hours keeps growing – and changing. Meanwhile, personalized gifts have their own love story. If you’ve ever received a handmade Valentine’s Day Card, you’ve probably felt the type of connection that brands seek to build upon through emotional marketing.

The Flowering of Same Day Delivery

In many ways, the marriage of same day delivery and personalization began in 1884, when the Society of American Florists (SAF) was born. This led to the 1910 founding of the Florists Telegraph Delivery Association, which is now known as FTD®. As America’s first flowers-by-wire service, FTD enabled customers to send flowers to people in different parts of the country. The sending florist could transmit a written greeting in the customer’s own words using state-of-the-art technology; the telegraph. Fittingly, a wholesale florist with the last name of Valentine was an FTD pioneer.

Over time, the telegraph went the way of the horse and buggy. Yet, FTD continued to grow and change. In 1979, The Mercury Network was born so that member florists could communicate electronically. Less than 20 years later, FTD merged onto what was then known as the “information superhighway” with, a website launched in 1994 that now supports e-commerce. Meanwhile, competitors such as 1-800-Flowers and Teleflora emerged followed by today’s innovators such as Bouqs, which has added farm-direct and transparent sourcing to the delivery chain. Many of the major players in this space sell not only flowers and flower bouquets, but also gifts such as candies and chocolates.

Personalized Gifts and the Power of Voice

The floral industry understood that behind every gift is a message.  Their iconic slogan of “Say it With Flowers” has been repurposed for every gift item under the sun.  Ahead of its time, in 2009 FTD launched the  Say It Your Way Bouquet, which used Voice Express technology and allowed the sender to record a personalized voice message that played at the touch of a button. To record the message, the sender called a toll-free number.

Today, Build a Bear – another Voice Express customer – takes same day delivery and personalized gifting to a new level. The retailer is partnering with Shipt, a last-mile delivery solution, so that its voice enabled teddy bears and other customized products are available for delivery on the same day that they’re built. When a customer builds a personalized stuffed toy through Build-A-Bear’s online Bear Builder configurator, there’s an option for same-day delivery. A Build-A-Bear employee can then package the order at the customer’s local store so that it’s ready for curbside pickup.

BOPIS and VoT: Loving the New Generation

In the age of COVID-19, the Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) model that Build-A-Bear is using is exploding in popularity. The convenience that BOPIS offers, the ease of same day delivery, and the emotional connection of personalized gifting on impulse are all built to outlast the pandemic. By combining BOPIS with the power of voice, brands can further emulate Build-A-Bear’s example. The Voice Express chip inside a personalized stuffed toy contains a special recorded message for a memorable, magical surprise. Now, with the Voice of Things (VoT), brands can fall in love with new possibilities.

Thank you for engaging Voice Express, where we enable brands and consumers to communicate in a direct, unmediated fashion through self-playing media. If you’d like to learn more about voice-enabled technologies, we invite you to read these recent articles.

Emotional marketing is an effective way to promote your Amazon listing, enhance your brand message, and increase sales through your Amazon storefront. By appealing to deeply-held feelings, this marketing technique creates a powerful connection that causes consumers to notice, remember, share, and buy a company’s products. With over 300 million customers in 180 countries, including 195 million unique visitors in the United States alone, selling on Amazon is a tremendous opportunity for all types of brands.

During the holiday shopping season, the combination of gift giving and emotional marketing can be especially profitable. Yet, the value that emotional connection marketing offers is available all year round. Voice Express, the leader in interactive print media, ranks number one on Google for “voice recorders for dolls” thanks to our Amazon storefront. In the spirit of holiday giving, we’d like to share some emotional marketing best practices so that you can optimize your own Amazon listing.

Quilts, Pillows, Plush Toys, and Baby Dolls

When you visit our Amazon store, you’ll notice three products on the left-side of the page. Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. uses the first product, the Voice Express Voice Recorder for Plush, for its talking teddy bears and other stuffed animals. What grabs and holds your attention, however, are the images of quilts, pillows, plush toys, and baby dolls. Maybe you remember grandma’s sewing or a cherished moment with a parent. Images of smiling children also convey warmth and bliss. As you see the applications for our products, it’s the emotions – not the electronics – that engage you. Yet if you want to know more, this video can help.

Picture Frames, Books, and Scrapbooks

Another Voice Express solution, our Voice-Over® Voice Recorder for Frames, can be used to add voice to any ordinary item. Still, there’s nothing unremarkable about the picture frames, books, and scrapbooks shown in our Amazon store. After all, the frames that hold family pictures often contain some of our fondest memories. Scrapbooks, of course, are also deeply personal. Even best-selling books that are mass-produced can be personalized with a voice-recorder accessory. This is shown by a smiling reader with a soft cushion, favorite beverage, and gentle sunlight.

Wine, Gifts, and Flowers

Emotional marketing can also connect a company’s products to life’s memorable experiences. That’s why our VoiceGift® Tag shows wine, gifts, and flowers – items given for birthdays, special days like Mother’s Day, or whenever congratulations are in order. The images in our Amazon store could emphasize product features like acid-free paper. Instead, they evoke celebrations, romance, friendship, and family time. These things stay with us and, thanks to video, tell a story to gift-givers.

Wrapping It Up (Without Ribbons and Bows)

Voice Express wishes you the happiest of holiday seasons and invites you to enjoy our most recent articles about voice-enabled technologies.

If you’re looking for an innovative approach to marketing in the New Year, consider Voice Express Connect™ – the future of direct mail.

What’s Next?

Thank you for engaging Voice Express, where we enable consumers and brands to communicate in a direct and unmediated fashion through self-playing media. Are you looking for a way to provide a high-impact interactive experience? Would you like to engage, inform, and invite multiple impressions while developing lasting affinity? We’re here to help, so contact us to get started.

Gift giving is an enormous opportunity for brands. The size of the gift merchandise market is $1 trillion. Consumers spend $695 billion on winter holiday gifts alone. The market for business gifts is also booming and could reach $125 billion. At a time of year when many consumer products are gifted, brands are searching for a competitive advantage. They want gift recipients to become future buyers. Plus, they want gift givers to feel that they’ve chosen the perfect gift.

The best gifts delight both the giver and the receiver. The brand benefits as well. For existing customers, gifting strengthens brand identification. For prospective customers, gifting leads to brand discovery and, hopefully, future purchases. The giver of a gift becomes a brand ambassador. The recipient of a gift gets what amounts to a free product sample. Emotional marketing can influence the decision to buy a gift. However, it’s emotion-first gifting that drives the optimal gift giving experience.

Emotional Marketing and Emotion-First Gifting

Emotional marketing is a proven technique that encourages people to notice, remember, share, and buy. By appealing to deeply-held feelings, this type of marketing creates an emotional connection that leads to an action. Emotion-first gifting, the giving and receiving of gifts that spark an emotional connection, also elicits a powerful response. These Limbic Sparks™, as Kevin Perlmutter of Limbic Brand Evolution calls them, increase desire, loyalty, and engagement with a brand.

During the age of COVID-19, Perlmutter recently told Voice Express, people are “fatigued by isolation”.  They are also especially hungry for “emotional release”. Emotion-first gifting can meet this need and has deep roots and a bright future. Gift giving may pre-date even barter as the earliest form of commerce. The potlach, a traditional gift-giving feast among the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, reaffirmed social connections and established a sense of reciprocity. Today, an explosion in on-line shopping makes it easier than ever to send a gift – if the giver leads with the heart.

The Evolution of Personalized Gifting       

Personalized gifting is no longer about buying someone a product with a recipient’s name or initials. Today, on-line companies like SmartGift are discovering and optimizing consumer intent. The giver selects an item such as shirt, the recipient specifies preferences such as style and color, and the giver then pays for the purchase. GiftNow, another pioneering business, lets the giver send a gift notification to a recipient, who can modify or exchange the product before it ships.

Both SmartGift and GiftNow provide welcome alternatives to gift cards that are convenient to give but that may feel impersonal to the recipient.  Yet, there’s more to personalized gifting than offering defined choices within narrower parameters. By applying the principles of emotion-first gifting and learning from a heartfelt case study, brands can meet the needs of givers and receivers while encouraging everyone to feel the Limbic Sparks™ that Kevin Perlmutter seeks to ignite.

Emotion-First Gift Giving Case Study

Build-a-Bear Workshop®, a U.S. retailer that sells customizable teddy bears that are offered with voice-recorded messages, lets consumers record what they want to play-back when a teddy bear “talks”. The company, which uses voice-enabled chips from Voice Express, recently experienced a 299% increase in ecommerce sales at a time when many of its 359 retail locations were shuttered by COVID-19.

When a mother in Ohio wanted to give a present to her son, she took emotion-first gifting to a higher level. The six-year old boy was battling leukemia. The recent loss of his grandfather, Bubba Lou, to COVID-induced complications, left him emotionally devastated. To comfort his spirts, the mother combined some old voice mails from the grandfather and added them to the audio chip inside a Build-a-Bear. She even named the bear Bubba Lou and dressed the stuffed animal in clothes like the grandfather wore.

What’s Next?

As Kevin Perlmutter of Limbic Brand Evolution says, “brands should exist to make people’s lives better.  The most important question for any brand leader is ‘How do you want people to feel?’” If you’re ready to embrace emotional marketing and explore emotion-first giving, ask Voice Express for more information about our voice-enabled technologies. To get started, contact us.

Voice Express Corp.  Our self-playing media lets consumers and brands communicate in a direct and unmediated fashion. We also provide high-impact interactive experiences that engage, inform and invite multiple impressions and lasting affinity.

Limbic Brand Evolution We develop foundational brand strategy, rooted in emotional insights, that activates how a brand comes to life through offerings, messaging, experiences and identity. We have deep experience with large global brands, and very often work with small to medium-sized businesses and nonprofits. Also, we bring big-brand experience and expertise without big-agency overhead. We guide brand evolutions of any size and turn emotional insights into a competitive advantage.

Fairfield, CT, November 19, 2017 – Voice Express Corp. introduced Voice Express Connect; the first self-playing print brochure with built-in speech recognition.

Voice Express has been at the forefront of providing self-playing media products in the toy, packaging, display and marketing spaces.  For direct-mail and trade magazine publishers, Voice Express has produced printed audio and video brochures which enabled brands to deliver self-playing audio and video to targeted audiences such as Doctors and Financial advisers.  With Voice Express Connect, such printed cards will not only play media when they are opened but will also “listen” for spoken prompts and play media personalized to the interests and needs of the recipient.

Unlike audio and video cards of the past, the media contained on these brochures is not limited by a finite number of PLAY buttons or mediated by a cumbersome interface using Fast-Forward or Next to navigate. Voice Express Connect can store and play-back a limitless amount of media covering diverse subjects and addressing a multiplicity of interests. The only tool necessary to access relevant content is the user’s own voice.

“Amazon Alexa and Google Home have forever changed user expectations and are found in more and more homes because of the way they engage consumers. Now Voice Express Connect will become the optimal way for brands to engage high-value prospects and re-connect with existing customers.” said Geoffrey Stern, CEO and Founder of Voice Express.  “Speech is the most direct form of communication and the most natural interface.  With Voice Express Connect, brands will be able to deliver their media message and at the same time listen to users and provide information personalized to their interests.”

Voice Express Connect™ is perfect for brands wishing to engage with upper management and other high value prospects that are hard to reach through traditional media, e-mail, social media or text.

For media inquires or to create a Voice Express Connect™ campaign contact

Fairfield, CT, November 17, 2017 – Voice Express Corp. is excited to note that the US patent office has published our application for Multimedia Keepsake System and Method.  Filed in 2014, we realized very early on that gift-givers and music lovers now have access to an infinite supply of their own and their friends User Generated Content (UGC) which can be used to create personalized gifts and gift accessories. We call this Voice Gifting™.

Geoffrey Stern, Founder and CEO noted “We were always told that it’s not the gift, it’s the intent that matters. Modern e-commerce and mobile-commerce has made gift-giving so much easier, but now for the first time, gift givers will be able to incorporate the songs they love, the music they’ve created and media content they have shared or “liked” into their gifts to express their true emotions and capture the moment.”

Imagine a Bouquet of flowers, or a box of gourmet chocolates delivered with an electronic keepsake that plays the music of your first dance along with your personal voice dedication! Whether a consumer purchases a gift using their PC, their smartphone or a voice Assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, now all you need is a voice to make your gift uniquely special and meaningful.

According to the patent application,

… modern online social media technology and platforms make it possible for a keepsake giver to easily access content for the multimedia keepsake that has been shared by or collaboratively created with friends or amateur artists wishing to share their creative content. Users of social media platforms post and share high volumes of user generated content (UGC) some of which is simply content such as music, images or video which the user curates or combines in a creative manner.  It is an object of the present invention to provide a multimedia keepsake creation system which offers a keepsake giver the ability to incorporate content from social media platforms and other sources into the content of the keepsake.

As we move forward in turning this concept into a reality we invite prospective shopping platform partners and content providers to collaborate and help us forever change the way gifts and merchandise are exchanged.